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Obua falls from grace to grass

When David Obua threw a tantrum after he was substituted just after the hour mark in last Saturday’s Nations Cup (Afcon) qualifier against Guinea-Bissau, he was keeping up with his reputation as a flawed genius.

After seven years at Kitante Primary school, Obua went through St. Henry’s College Kitovu, Kibuli SS, St. Joseph’s Naggalama and even Uganda Martyrs High School, Rubaga. This was quite a turnover of secondary schools, and was squarely because of his untamable indiscipline. At Kitovu, Obua got expelled after he infamously had a training ground altercation with Father Cornelius Ryan, who was the in-charge of sports.

Obua was also discontinued from Kibuli in 1997 after his run-ins with teachers. A year before his expulsion, in 1996, Obua popped many eyes in Kibuli when he punched referee Liburd Masembe for booking him in an inter-house football competition. This violent streak again resurfaced at the Coca-Cola Post-Primary football championships in Mbarara in 1997.

Kibuli was playing St. Leo’s College Kyegobe in the final of that championship. When it fell behind to what seemed like an easy goal, Obua ran towards his goalkeeper and slapped him before asking him to hand over the gloves so that he keeps goal instead. This fracas went on for some time before order was restored. St Leo’s College Kyegobe exploited this disorganisation to thump Kibuli 4-0.

At one time in Naggalama, Obua started on the bench but kept nagging his coach on why he wasn’t on the field of play. So, on 60 minutes, when a team-mate of Obua’s got injured and was taken off for treatment, the lanky forward sensed an opportunity. Off Obua went to the linesman. Coach has decided to make a substitution, Obua told the linesman.

Problem was this wasn’t true. Once the injured player was ready to return, Obua had taken his place much to the dismay of the coach. Such disregard for authority has been Obua’s way of life, something that it had him banished from a training session by Cranes’ Egyptian coach Muhammed Abbas in 2004.

Obua’s fearless nature was the reason Mike Mutebi once appointed him skipper. But Obua went overboard. He walked out of an Express players’ meeting with the club chairman, Godfrey Kirumira in 2003 and drove away without permission. His excuse was that he was tired and wanted to go home.

Such insubordination saw Obua even speak to his late father, Denis Obua, rudely in the presence of Cranes players for delaying their allowances back in 2004. The late Obua was Fufa President then. Later that year, Obua left St. Louis football club in Mauritius unceremoniously for attacking a referee and tearing a red card that he had received.

Just the other week, as his teammate Dennis Onyango complained about a ‘supposedly’ inaccurate newspaper story that he was leaving relegated Mpumulanga Black Aces for Mamelodi Sundowns, Obua said that the reason he doesn’t speak to the Ugandan media was that they were “crap”. This irked Mike Mutebi who says Obua ought to be professional, and respectful.

The Ugandan media has built Obua’s profile and protected him. It, for instance, didn’t highlight the fact that in the run-up to the Guinea-Bissau game, Obua showed the middle finger to fans at a training session in Namboole.  Obua should know better as his dad, Denis, missed out on playing in the 1978 Afcon thanks to indiscipline.

So, what is Fufa going to do about Obua Jnr? Will he, like Obua Snr, be suspended? Well, on Tuesday, Fufa president, Lawrence Mulindwa, opted to do nothing, reasoning that this was Obua’s “first offence”.

But how come this reasoning wasn’t floated when Mike Serumagga, who played in the Angola and Kenya Afcon qualifiers, was suspended from The Cranes in January for exposing Bunamwaya FC for not paying his wages? Besides, this wasn’t Obua’s first offence!

This should be a learning process for Fufa to introduce a code of conduct for national team footballers. Since 2003, Obua has played in 22 Afcon qualifying games and Cranes has won ten of them in which he has scored eleven goals. The fact that Cranes is yet to qualify confirms that Obua isn’t everything to this team.

Obua doesn’t have many years of football left in him. And this is the time when he ought to be building a good image of himself, especially to the young players.
No doubt, he will live to regret his footballing outbursts at some point in time.

jovi@observer.ug

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